More Cool Tools for Schools

8297369596Learn as if you were to live forever ~Mahatma Gandhi

This past week I learned about some great tools and upgrades that I am happy to share with you.

First off is Pixiclip which I heard about from Richard Byrne’s Practical EdTech Guide. Pixiclip is like a marriage of an online whiteboard and Screencastify or Quick Time or Jing. You get my point. It is your online tool for making whiteboard explainer videos. What is great about it is that it starts recording as soon as you start working on the whiteboard. You can type, draw, and record yourself or your microphone. You can upload your own images and then mark them up while recording your mouse movements. It’s not only great for teachers to use but for students as well.

Next up are two great extensions from Alice Keeler and Matt Miller, two names you should remember from my previous post about the #DitchSummit among other mentions. From Alice Keeler comes Slideshot, a Chrome extension that takes a screenshot of your work once a minute (or you can do it manually) and then creates a slide presentation of those images. For your students, it is a great way to see their progress in a time-lapse sort of way. You may remember my mentioning Slideshot before the winter break but it is worth mentioning it again because it works so nicely with this next extension created by Keeler and Miller. DriveSlides takes photos from a folder in your Google Drive and automatically creates a Slides presentation with them. Miller explains how it can be used and gives great, step-by-step instructions in both video and text formats that you can read about here.

This afternoon, at precisely 12:03 when my TechCrunch email arrived in my inbox, I heard about a new FREE digital storytelling app from Google called Toontastic 3D. Yes, that’s right, 3-D. Using Toontastic 3D kids can draw pictures, animate, insert images, and narrate while moving their characters around the screen to make their story come alive. What makes this app even more exciting are the story arc options kids can choose from to plot our their tale. From “family flicks” to “social lessons”, “cooking shows” to “documentaries” and more, there are a variety of ways for students to tell their story. In just a handful of steps – literally 5 – you can go from ideas to export.

Just when you thought Google couldn’t get any better comes an upgrade to Google Classroom that I think teachers are going to love! In the past teachers had to post assignments to everyone in their class; now teachers can assign to individual or small groups of students. This is something that I personally know my colleagues love about Edmodo, now they can differentiate in Classroom as well.

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Final Share of the School Year

Thank to Twitter, I have come across a few things that I think you might enjoy reading, trying, viewing.

The first is Context U. For those of you who teach History (I would say grade 4 and up as it is designed for middle school and high school) or who are history buffs, this site is for you. It is currently in Beta which means its developers want and ask for feedback so give it to them. What it is is actually in the name- Context U is a site that puts historical events in context by placing them on an interactive timeline, pinning them on a Google map, grouping them in groups, and showing cause and effect. The best part is it is all interactive. As you know, understanding the context and background offers insights and understanding in a deeper way, making the learning of the topic go deeper. So, take a look, offer feedback, and share it with your students.

Next are some great Google Chrome extensions that will make reading online more about the reading and less about the distractions of the ads. I use the Evernote Clearly extension and love it because it I use Evernote to store articles (and recipes) and links from the web and the Clearly extension merges clean reading and the ability to then clip and save the article to my Evernote notebooks seamless.

 This next is an article about how one teacher made some shifts in her thinking and teaching and how these shifts allowed her to have a memorable 13th year of teaching. Before we all move on from this school year, what things will you think about that went well, and what things will you want to leave behind?

About a month ago was Google Education on Air, a two-day live streamed event that was all about the Skills of the Future for our students. I watched a number of the speakers live, and found the event to be exciting and motivating. Fortunately, even though the event is long over, the videos and the messages are archived for our viewing and reading pleasure. First is the skills report, a 21-page survey report on the skills students will need in the future to be successful. The top 3 from the survey are Problem-solving, teamwork, and communication. Read on to see what other skills students will need for the future. 

And what would a share of mine be without multiple somethings from Google. This time it’s Google Photos. Many of you are cleaning out laptops and want to know where to put your photos that are not synced with the I-cloud. Well, Google Photos is a great option. Take a look at all you can do with the Google Photos app for your mobile devices as well as the app for your Chrome home page. Seeing is believing.